Jianbing 1B (FSW-2)

The Jianbing 1B (FSW-2) project was initiated in 1988, with the aim of introducing a new generation of recoverable imaging satellites capable of acquiring Earth imagery with higher resolution than that of the first-generation Jianbing 1 (FSW-0). The development of the Jianbing 1B began in 1988 under the direction of Wang Daheng. However, the project made little progress until 1990, when the military demanded that the satellite to be ready for launch no later than April 1992.

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Jianbing 1A (FSW-1)

The Jianbing 1A (FSW-1) was the recoverable photogrammetric satellite introduced in the 1980s. To obtain higher-precision images of the Earth, the satellite was equipped with a new scanning-type large-format panorama camera, which replaced the prism-type panorama camera on the Jianbing 1 (FSW-0). The camera was said to be comparable in performance with those found on the foreign-made Earth-observation satellites of the same era.

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Jianbing 1 (FSW-0)

Jianbing 1 (“Vanguard”), or unofficially known as FSW-0, was the military designation given to the first-generation recoverable remote-sensing satellite missions launched between 1974 and 1987. The satellites carried a single prism-type panorama camera to obtain visible and near infrared photographic images of Earth, with an estimated special resolution of 10 to 15 m. Later missions also carried a medium-resolution CCD camera to demonstrate the real-time Earth imaging technology.

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FSW – Development history

China’s space programme, including the recoverable satellite project, was seriously disrupted when the political turmoil during the ‘Culture Revolution’ that began in 1966. Under the direct order of Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai, in 1968 the personnel and organisations working on the satellite development were transferred from the CAS to the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST, or the 5th Academy), a military institution that was later placed under the Seventh Ministry of Machinery Industry.

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FSW – Satellite design

The 1,800 kg recoverable satellite was in a conical shape with a blunt tip, with a maximum diameter of 2.20 m. On later variants it was extended with a cylinder-shape section to accommodate additional equipment. The spacecraft was divided into the re-entry capsule and the instrument module, and consisted of 11 sub-systems: space-frame, thermal control, camera, flight control, programmed control, telemetry, remote-control, tracking, recovery, antenna and power supply. Onboard power was supplied by batteries, with no solar panel attached.

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FSW – Programme origin

The recoverable satellites, or Fanhui Shi Weixing (FSW), were first introduced in the 1970s for military reconnaissance and land survey roles. This was China’s first application satellite programme, following on from the initial success in China’s space exploration with the launch of two scientific experimental satellite missions in the early 1970s. The programme also led to the introduction of the Long March 2 booster, and paved the way for the subsequent development of human spaceflight technology.

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